Was Richard Colvin all alone in his concerns? - Macleans.ca

Was Richard Colvin all alone in his concerns?


Defence Minister Peter MacKay did everything he could today to portray Richard Colvin—the Canadian diplomat who alleges the government refused to heed his warnings about torture in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007—as an eccentric voice whose fears back in those days were not echoed by other credible observers.

For my money, however, Human Rights Watch, the internationally respected watchdog group, is highly credible. And in a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations way back on Nov. 27, 2006, here’s what Human Rights Watch had to say about the situation Canadian troops, and others, were embroiled in:

NATO forces have stated that they have detained only a few detainees, even in the heavy combat zones of southern Afghanistan. Dutch forces operating in Oruzgan announced their first five detainees two weeks ago, while British and Canadian forces operating in Helmand and Kandahar, respectively, have publicly acknowledged fewer than 100 detainees. Given the ferocity of the fighting in these areas, the absence of more detainees raises two alarming alternatives: either that NATO forces are not taking detainees, or, more likely, that NATO forces are circumventing their bilateral agreements by immediately turning over detainees to Afghan authorities and thus abrogating their responsibility to monitor the detainees’ treatment.

We have received credible reports about mistreatment of detainees transferred by NATO to Afghan authorities. It is our understanding that the Afghan Ministry of Defense does not have in place a legal framework for holding detainees. We understand that the Afghan government has not yet ratified a law on military tribunals drafted with the assistance of US authorities. For now, we understand that in practice most NATO detainees are transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), an opaque, unaccountable and abusive institution still governed by classified laws promulgated during Afghanistan’s communist era. The NDS operates detention centers that fail to meet international standards for the treatment of detainees.


Was Richard Colvin all alone in his concerns?

    • A collector of Nazi memorabilia is not a Nazi sympathizer, douchebag.

      • These character-assassins are out of control, aren't they?

        • Character assassinations is the only thing most conservatives do these days.

          • ….and the founder of Human Rights Watch himself. Exactly 1 month ago Robert Bernstein came out in the New York Times and declared that HRW had lost it's way in the Middle East.


            "Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished."

            Case of the left assassinating the character of the left.

          • If your interested, HRW responded;

            "As present chairwoman and past chairman of the board of Human Rights Watch, we were saddened to see Robert L. Bernstein argue that Israel should be judged by a different human rights standard than the rest of the world."

            "We reaffirmed our conviction that it is essential to hold Israel to the same international human rights standards as other countries. To do otherwise would be a violation of our core principle that human rights are universal."

          • They go with their strengths. To bad effective, honest, open government is not one of them.

      • Collectors don't have to be sympathizers, but when he's so gleeful about the subject matter of his collection, it's more than fair to infer. If I publicly giggled about how awesome my vintage SS leather jacket with authentic swastikas and death's-head medals looked on me, I'm sure you'd give me the benefit of the doubt, hmm?

    • You're bullit proof argument comes from the Guardian? I mean never mind how thinly related these so-called nazi-sympathizers are to the subject of this article. Your entire criticism rests on the words of the UK's uber gawk-box.

      You really are a douchebag.

  1. This is ridiculous…

    I understand that this government's line of defense is going to be to discredit Colvin but it just doesn't make sense. In order to paint Colvin as a liar, they have to argue that Afghans do not torture their prisoners and that is nonsense. Of course they torture their prisoners. We all know that they torture them. So it stands to reason that the prisoners that we turned over to the Afghans were subjected to the same treatment.

    What's next? Is Mackay going to try to discredit the Red Cross, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and God only knows how many other groups?

    • Is Mackay going to try to discredit the Red Cross, Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and God only knows how many other groups?

      As the outing of Valerie Plame demonstrated, there's no line conservative scumbags won't cross to discredit a critic.

  2. one brave canadian alive.

    • Brave now, less brave apparently when he was in theatre.

      I still dont understand why this is coming out now, this really is a 2 year old story, that I thought had been dealt with. One may not have been happy with the Governments verbal response at the time, but actions were taken. What brought this out now?

  3. You should be more concerned about the ones who aren't public about their particular proclivities.

    Like I said…out of control.

  4. Given the particular nature of your blogospheric notoriety, Robert, you're not really the best person to get huffy on this subject.

    • Now that Parisella's gone, you don't have as good a target for personal attacks and character-assassination, do you?

      Cheer up. You still have Aaron Wherry.

  5. Don't worry avr, ignore R.M, Anon and Andre, you are in good company with the contempt you hold towards Human Rights Watch. Keep up the hard work comrade.

    • Cuba! hmmmmm now there's an ocean of reliability!

  6. Ooooh, touchy tonight, are we? Did someone say something unkind about your own "memorabilia collection?"

  7. This is standard Conservative operating procedure. Never admit error. Always go on the attack.

  8. SO just where is this issue going? Is it that Canadian Soldiers tortured…no it isnt going there…Is it that Canadians contiinue to pass on detainees and not monitor them….no it cant go there

    All that is left is to say that the government should have acted faster on these concerns, assuming they were raised, at the time. And fair enough on that point. They should have.

    Living in the moment, as opposed to the past for a second, is whatever policy, or lack thereof, still in force or has it changed and that there are controls and monitors in place to ensure it doesnt happen. While I think this is the point of some of the critics, the restrictions make it hardly worthwhile to do these things…ever, unless you are fighting a traditional conflict, with people in Uniforms sponsored by national governments. All, non traditional conflicts should be left alone because the legal overhead and baggage Western armies bring with them just isnt worth it. No wonder nothing was done in Rawanda, thats the model……